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Denver at Minnesota

In first game without K.G., Timberwolves can't hold off Nuggets

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson taught the young Minnesota Timberwolves a couple of lessons about life in the NBA in their first game without Kevin Garnett.

The first? Reputation goes a long way in this league.

The second? The fourth quarter is the only one that matters.

Minnesota outplayed Denver for most of Friday night, but couldn't come up with the big shots down the stretch and Anthony scored 33 points to rally the Nuggets to a 99-91 victory.

"We kept our composure," Anthony said. "We never got rattled, even though they were up by (13)."

Playing their first game in 13 years without Garnett, the Timberwolves raced to an early lead, but Anthony, Iverson and the Nuggets rode an overwhelming advantage at the free throw line to the win.

Iverson shot just 4-for-14 from the field, but still managed 24 points thanks to his 15-for-16 performance at the line. Marcus Camby added 14 points, 21 rebounds and six blocks for Denver.

The officials whistled the Timberwolves for 28 fouls and Denver for 17, and the Nuggets attempted 38 free throws to Minnesota's 19.

"This team is going to have to earn the respect of the officials," Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said. "We went to the basket just as hard as they did."

Rashad McCants scored 23 points and Al Jefferson had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the new-look Timberwolves, who lost their first home opener since 1994, the year before Garnett arrived.

Minnesota traded Garnett to Boston at the end of July for Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, Gerald Green and two first-round draft picks.

"It's different," Iverson said. "I know it's different when a guy gets traded. I hear guys tell me it feels different when they go to Philly and I'm not there. But that's the business."

With no visible signs of Garnett in the building he once owned -- aside from several fans wearing his green Celtics No. 5 jersey -- pyrotechnics and a pregame video announced that on Nov. 2, 2007, "A New Era Begins."

This summer, basketball boss Kevin McHale completely revamped the roster. Only three players remain on the team from just two years ago, prompting Nuggets coach George Karl to ask before the game, "Who are they going to start?"

For the record, it was Jefferson, Gomes, Telfair, McCants and Ratliff, and the group used a 19-2 run in the first 5 minutes to take a 19-6 lead.

The Wolves held that lead for the next three quarters, until Camby's jumper gave Denver an 81-79 lead with 8:02 to play.

"We were in it the whole game," McCants said. "If you take away the free throws, we probably win by 20."

Anthony scored 11 points in the fourth and the Wolves shot just 2-for-16 in the first 10 minutes of the period to let the game slip away.

"We wore them down a little bit, but mentally I thought we stayed in the game," Karl said. "As the game went along, we got mentally tougher and that gave us confidence to win the game."

While the expectations are almost nonexistent for Minnesota, the Nuggets fully expect to be one of the best teams in the powerful Western Conference this season.

Anthony has predicted a 60-win season, and his veteran presence and clutch shot-making was the difference down the stretch.

He bulldozed rookie Corey Brewer on his way to a three-point play during a 12-2 run in the fourth, then threw down an emphatic dunk over two Timberwolves to hold the lead.

"I just know we stepped it up defensively. We were able to get some stops and come down and execute on the other end," Iverson said. "We caught a lot of breaks at the end of the game. We felt like it was going to be a matter of time when we would get the lead back and keep it."

Notes

  • Wolves G Marko Jaric was given a flagrant foul for clothes-lining Bobby Jones in the second quarter.
  • Before every game, Garnett would pour a lot of talcum powder in his hands and dump it an unlucky member of the media. In homage, McCants, who was very close to Garnett, poured a less obnoxious amount in his hand and blew it on press row.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Marcus Camby, who chips in with 21 rebounds and six blocks, battles for a board.  (Getty Images)
Marcus Camby, who chips in with 21 rebounds and six blocks, battles for a board. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Denver (2-0) «2128252599
Minnesota (0-1) 2725251491
DEN:C. Anthony 33 Pts
DEN:M. Camby 21 Reb
DEN:A. Iverson 8 Ast
MIN:R. McCants 23 Pts
MIN:A. Jefferson 13 Reb
MIN:S. Telfair 5 Ast
Players of the Game
MinnesotaDenver

A. Jefferson

M. Camby
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
1613314213
Denver
C. Anthony, SF4413-225-756333
M. Camby, C397-100-1213314
A. Iverson, SG384-1415-1638124
K. Martin, PF193-70-05036
Y. Diawara, SG70-00-00010
M. Wilks, PG304-70-02318
Nene, PF241-34-86136
L. Kleiza, SF172-70-04014
E. Najera, PF140-31-23011
B. Jones, SF70-03-40003
A. Carter, PGDid Not Play
C. Atkins, PGDid Not Play
S. Hunter, PFDid Not Play
J. Smith, SGDid Not Play
V. Wafer, SGDid Not Play
Totals 34-7328-3849211799
 46.6%73.7% 
Minnesota
A. Jefferson, PF386-144-5133216
S. Telfair, PG354-130-02549
R. McCants, SG309-182-312423
T. Ratliff, C294-106-961114
R. Gomes, PF244-90-04439
G. Buckner, SG254-100-024210
C. Smith, PF181-32-24144
C. Brewer, SF151-40-04122
A. Walker, SF132-70-03224
M. Jaric, SF130-00-01040
M. Doleac, CDid Not Play
M. Madsen, PFDid Not Play
G. Green, SGDid Not Play
R. Foye, PGDid Not Play
C. Richard, PFDid Not Play
Totals 35-8814-1940232891
 39.8%73.7% 
Other Games
Mia 85 Final
Ind 87
Det 116 Final
Orl 92
Mil 99 Final
Char 102
Dal 94 Final
Atl 101
NY 106 Final
Cle 110
Tor 106 Final
NJ 69
Wash 83 Final
Bos 103
Port 93 Final
NO 113
Phi 96 Final
Chi 85
Sac 80 Final
SA 96
GS 114 Final
LAC 120
LAL 119 Final
Pho 98